Motherhood

Jonas: A Birth Story

Captain Obvious Warning: if you are squirmish about birth, just stop reading now. Or just scroll through for cute baby photos!

Our sweet boy is finally here! And we are all smitten, Adelina included.

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(She still gives him spontaneous kisses all the time, it is the sweetest thing. She’s really good at being gentle with him too, she continues to amaze me!)

They say every child is different, but it was still shocking to me how different Jonas’ birth was from Adelina’s. For one, he never came on his own! We waited as long as possible, but at 12 days overdue I had another follow-up with the doctor and I was SO DONE. So we checked me in to the hospital for induction on a Wednesday morning at 10AM. We ran back home to grab our stuff and set up Adelina with my in-laws who had come to stay and help (and had to wait for more than a week for nothing to happen…).

We walked calmly into the hospital and the doctor started me on Cervidil, a medicine that you apply directly to the cervix — it’s supposed to help dilate and ripen the cervix. I had been at about 2cm for about two weeks, and nothing had really changed, so his hope was this might kick things into gear before we started Pitocin. Well, I started having more regular contractions, but still nothing very strong, and after 12 hours of sitting in a hospital room, bored to death (I even sat in front of the mirror and did my hair…), nothing had changed other than slightly more effacement.

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I seriously wanted to cry at that point. This baby was NEVER coming! And the contractions weren’t too painful, but they were getting uncomfortable at that point. How much longer was this all going to last?! The doctor removed the Cervidil and told me to get some rest (Ha. What a joke!) overnight and we’d start Pitocin early in the morning.

I had a natural hospital birth with Adelina, so no epidural, but this time around and especially considering we were inducing, I was pretty much prepared to take the epidural. I was hoping for a slightly calmer and less harrowing experience this time around — but unfortunately, pretty much as soon as the doctor left for the night, my contractions kicked in hard. And they were PAINFUL.

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Keep in mind I’m still only slightly dilated, so that means no epidural, and my thought was “this is contractions for a 2, what is 8 going to be like?! And how long do I have to endure this?!” I was despairing, and absolutely miserable. Finally around 3AM — after offering Tylenol (Seriously?! who gives a laboring woman a Tylenol pill?!) and then Fentanyl (which didn’t do much other than make me drowsy), the nurse checked me and I was at about a 7. They quickly called the doctor and anesthesiologist after that, and turns out I was at an 8! Thank heavens those contractions had actually been doing their job!

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The anesthesiologist placed the epidural and seriously, it was just ridiculous how much it was NOT as big a deal as I had worried it would be! There was the slightest pinch when he injected the local anesthetic (flu-shot level “pain) and I “felt” the epidural placed, but it wasn’t pain, just the odd sensation of “there’s this thing being stuck in my spine.” A little disconcerting I suppose, but not at all painful. The unfortunate thing is… it only worked on my left side. I felt every contraction all the way up my back on the right side of my body, but very little on the left side. So that was.. not fun. And it felt like the epidural kept wearing off, FAST. So I kept asking the anesthesiologist for more and he seemed pretty surprised at how little it was really working. Luckily, it did help significantly to have at least have the contractions dulled. Oh, and the catheter… ugh. That thing was REALLY not fun. Crappy epidural aside, the pain did subside significantly and so did the contractions. For the next 2-3 hours they were much less strong and slowed down quite a bit, so we sort of just sat around and waited. Finally my body was pretty much ready to go, so the doctor suggested we just go for it: time to push! (Let me note that by this point, I was just a day shy of 42 weeks pregnant… not a minute too soon!)

My last delivery was frustrating in that I had labored naturally but when it came time to push, the OB delivered a pudendal nerve block (two not-fun shots straight up… there.) and immediately snipped, then basically pulled the baby out. I did a few pushes but felt kind of like a bystander at that point, it sort of surprised me how soon she was out. This time, I actually got the chance to really actively push the baby and it was strangely empowering. Finally, I could do something. And it was so exciting to feel the progress and get that energy to make it happen. The pushing was relatively short — probably 15 minutes — but this time around I was there for the whole thing. My doctor was great too, he was prepping and massaging the whole time and really helping guide pushing. Once I figured out how I was supposed to be pushing (it took a few pushes to realize I wasn’t being terribly effective ha!) we were in business — baby was on his way! Wait for a contraction, push, rest, repeat. I felt the “ring of fire” people talk about, I knew there was maybe one serious push left, and so I gave it everything, and suddenly there he was! It was so amazing to see him there finally, and to feel the relief of delivery. It was perfect, and so was our son!

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I couldn’t take my eyes off him — with his dark hair (Adelina had strawberry-blond hair!) and his sweet face. He was a little purple but everybody rubbed him and got him right up to speed. Those first little cries are so sweet and pitiful at the same time, and I couldn’t wait to hold him. Of course, one of the first things we immediately looked at were his feet, and I felt like they didn’t look too severely deformed: they certainly could have been worse! And twisted or not, those feet are just so precious…

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He didn’t immediately want to nurse but once he got poked and prodded and cleaned up a bit he was ready to go and latched right on — thank goodness! He even let us get some good stretches of sleep that first night (well, technically it was day…), so we were in heaven. He was good and healthy –almost a full pound more than his sister — so we were good to go home the next day, and just like that we were a family of four!

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That is pretty hard to believe. I am so grateful once again to have had my husband’s parents around to help, entertain Adelina, hold the baby, cook, clean… my goodness. How do people survive without family?! Not to mention all the amazing people who brought us meals and provided emotional support since then (shout-out to my Power of Moms Learning Circle!).

And I’m so happy that despite some frustrations with labor, the actual delivery went quite well with minimal tearing — it kind of provided some closure too that my doctor said he would have done an episiotomy the first time as well; at least it wasn’t all in vain — and recovery this time around has been SO MUCH easier. It also doesn’t hurt that Andrew is a rockstar partner. He’s working insane hours so he can drive down with us for treatment in Salt Lake City every Thursday, still comes home for lunch frequently to do dishes and help run damage control, after going through the same sleepless nights as me… he’s incredible.

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About the name:

We figured we had started a bit of a tradition by writing Adelina’s middle name with the French spelling, so Jonas’ middle name is Alexandre, which is a name I love. Jonas is a name my husband has loved since reading The Giver (if you haven’t read it, it’s really a beautiful children’s book), and not only is it a good name but I love the lessons the character in the book learns and how he faces challenges in his young life. (If you’ve only seen the recent movie adaptation of the book, it’s a poor substitute — go read it!) It’s also sort of a derivative of the name John, which is my husband’s father’s name. Meanwhile Alexandre is a classical name that I find beautiful, and it’s sort of a family name derivative: my father’s name is Alexis (yes, outside of the US it’s always a man’s name) and my first middle name is Alexandrine, so we’re just keeping the theme going!

Welcome to the world, Jonas Alexandre!

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Photography by Catherine Grandy Photography — I love how she captured our family!
(photos at the hospital are by my husband)

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